Liceat unicuique de cetero exire de regno nostro, et redire, salvo et secure, per terram et aquam, salva fide nostra, nisi tempore gwerrae per aliquod breve tempus, propter communem utilitatem regni, exceptis imprisonatis et utlagatis secundum legem regni, et gente de terra contra nos gwerrina, et mercatoribus de quibus fiat sicut praedictum est.
It is to be lawful in future for every man to depart from our kingdom, and to return to it, safely and securely, by land and water, saving our allegiance, except in time of war for some short time, for the sake of the common utility of the kingdom, [and] excepting those imprisoned and outlawed according to the law of the kingdom, and people from the land against us in war, and merchants who are to be dealt with as aforesaid.
Clause 42 complemented Clause 41, extending the freedom of movement granted in the latter to merchants to the rest of the king’s subjects. The king’s right to control movements to and from England, facilitated by its being an island, went back at least to the eleventh century, and perhaps much earlier. It is probably not an accident that a large proportion of the surviving evidence for the implementation of this right relates to churchmen, members of an international community whose dealings with Rome, as the seat of a higher power than the king’s, often had the potential to be detrimental to royal authority. The quarrels of Henry II with Thomas Becket, and of John with Innocent III and Stephen Langton, both prompted greater determination to control comings and goings between England and the Continent, and in doing so generated a power which could also be exerted over laymen and which constituted an asset that no government was likely to surrender lightly. Nor, in fact, was it given up, for the clause was dropped from the later reissues of Magna Carta.
Please note: commentaries are presently available only for clauses marked with *; more commentary to be added in due course.